MSF Raises Alarm On Spread Of Tuberculosis, HIV
Faizan Hashmi 10 days ago Wed 10th July 2019 | 08:02 PM
Tuberculosis (TB) claims more lives worldwide every year than any Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has, which is why new medicine capable of treating even the most difficult drug-resistant forms of the disease need to be created, Marit van Lenthe, the president of Doctors Without Borders' branch in the Netherlands (MSF Holland), told Sputnik
"It may not seem like a massively, quickly spreading outbreak as measles or what we consider a super dangerous outbreak of Ebola [in the DRC] but as a matter of fact, most people killed worldwide from an infectious disease are from tuberculosis that has been with us since written history. So we have to focus on that and develop more drugs more quickly," she said.
Van Lenthe then explained that the current problem with TB was that the majority cases did not respond to a normal treatment anymore.
"And that is a very big epidemic as well. If we are not careful we have hardly any drugs to tackle that," she noted.
"In many parts of the world HIV infections have become chronic diseases.
But what we see with a breakdown of systems is a full-blown 90-s, 80-s picture of AIDS coming back," she said.
Van Lenthe added that MSF had recently launched a project in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk where their team was working together with Russian scientists on TB treatment. The team's goal is to share expertise and try to reduce the painful two-year treatment to a nine-month program without injections.
"This is a major step forward for tuberculosis patients, and I think this is where we need to really try to focus our attention on because if they stop the treatment they will continue spreading [the disease]," she said.
According to van Lenthe, it is important to focus on patient-centered care and that patients should finish their treatment since it is vital both for them and their communities.
According to the World Health Organization, TB remains in the top 10 causes of death globally. In addition, the disease is considered to be a leading killer of HIV-positive patients. According to the organization, over 95 percent of all cases are registered in developing countries.